"For the first time in the history of the EU" a European Citizen's Initiative (ECI) has been registered by the European Commission, says Spanish business daily Cinco Días. A petition of one million signatures from people in at least seven EU countries, was deposited on February 11 by Right2Water a non-governmental organisation. The petition is against the deregulation of water utilities as proposed in a directive on services. Signatories are also asking the Commission to propose legislation that would make the right to clean drinking-water a human right. For Cinco Días, this is a "democratic turning point" for the EU, because

For the first time, the European Commission will have to "share" with the people a right to initiate proposals, which it held exclusively until now. Only 10 months after the regulation on citizen's initiatives came into effect, European people have taken advantage of the options offered by institutions that usually only open their doors to listen to lobbyists.

The Commission now has three months to decide how it will respond to the petition and to justify its decision," explains Cinco Días.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung is also full of praise for the initiative and notes that Germans and Austrians are the principal signatories of the proposal. In both countries water utilities are publicly-owned and

even the most sober media has become enraged by the idea that the EU will force local governments to privatise water distribution.